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Chronicles of Tao: The Secret Life of a Taoist Master Paperback – October 8, 1993
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"An intriguing story . . . evokes both a China that no longer exists and its headlong clash with modern times."-- "San Francisco Chronicle"
About the Author
Deng Ming-Dao is the author of eight books, including 365 Tao, The Living I Ching, Chronicles of Tao, Everyday Tao, and Scholar Warrior. His books have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in San Francisco.
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Top customer reviews
I was not disappointed because it had been so long since I'd read the first two that the experience was like reading them for the first time after having dreamed parts of them. We have here a very young boy, from an influential Chinese clan, being raised in the Taoist traditions high atop one of China's sacred mountains. You can actually see this place in its modern incarnation on Youtube these days, with vids of the brave foreign trekkers who risk their lives on some of the rugged and hairy catwalks and toe-hold stepways that meander along the sheer, high cliffs.
Peppered with Taoist philosophy, this work also presents captivating and informative views of China just prior to, during, and after its glorious revolution, all wrapped around an attention-holding story line and much information regarding certain here-to-for obscure Taoist practices, and even a decades-old, veiled reference to the NWO End Game (coming soon?) to the effect that "someday there will be powerful events that shake up the entire world, and you will pay a part in it," or similar wording.
For the Western spoil-sport skeptic(k) type who must always allow his super ego to horn in and ask, "is it real," rest assured that "it REALly doesn't matter; now be a good boy and run along to read this book" :-)
It's a shame that such a beautiful religion is nearing extinction. I've been a Taoist for over 20 years and have never met another. This book gave me a touch of that life. Thank You, Sir Ming-dao for sharing this biography with the world.
1) _The Wandering Taoist_
I was pleasantly surprised at how smoothly this text flows, but then perhaps I should have expected this from a work so full of the true essence of the Tao. Primarily, this is the story of the education of a Taoist adept and renunciate from willful child to a master who is fully in harmony with heaven and earth. Secondarily, it is a glimpse into the intact monastic community of the Haushan mountains- before its dissolution in the post-Imperial chaos of the 20th century.
There is more than a little Taoist wisdom interwoven into the story. Indeed, it is a fine teaching aid. You get a sense of the careful guiding and molding of young Kwan Saihung by the Grand Master. Basic Taoist ethics, meditation, internal alchemy, healing, martial arts, divination, astral travel- are all touched upon. You get a sense of both the mundane and tedious groundwork of monastic life, as well as, the ego-shattering elements of crisis and initiation.
The advice concerning the purging of one's ming huan (karma) is especially refreshing in today's world. You came into this world with problems and dilemmas to be met and mastered. You are to burn away all your attachments and worldly goals, purge desire, and satisfy the thirst for knowledge (the exact opposite of the teachings of modern materialism.) You never refuse experience, and you overcome all obstacles that such experience presents. In this way you can leave this word fulfilled and pass to a higher plane.
Saihung's anger at the Japanese invasion of the 30's- and his decision to leave the order and fight as a "wandering Taoist"- is more than a little appropriate in today's world. After years of soul-numbing combat he returned to the monastery. He had come to realize the ultimate corruption of the outer world and the meaninglessness of war. He came to realize that humanity had to work out their own destiny- including war- and that no Taoist (or even the Jade Emperor) could do it for them.
2) _Seven Bamboo Tablets of the Cloudy Satchel_
While reading this second book in the author's _Chronicles of the Tao Trilogy_ it repeatedly occurred to me that it lacked the depth and meaning of the first volume. It seemed to have degenerated to a martial arts morality play. However, having finished reading the last section, I now see that I was wrong. This is even more powerful than the first book, for it is a tale of slipping from the Path of the Tao having once touched upon it. It is a story of striving, falling, and re-ascending.
The book starts with some excellent discussions on the nature of Taoism and the Tao. But after that it quickly switches to a description of martial arts training and how it intersects with the spiritual lives of the monks of Huanchan. Indeed, the pride of some of the monks, even the Grand Master, at meeting and defeating any and all challengers seemed very... questionable. Then Saihung was given a quest by the Grand Master- to track down and bring back a former student of the monastery who has gone into the world to become a thief, a slaver, and a murderer. And so he sets out on his knightly quest among the last remnants of the old martial order in a corrupt and decaying society. He travels through both the criminal and martial underworlds to find his quarry. It is along the way that he finds that not even a knight who is pure of heart can use force and killing without paying a heavy inner price.
It is after the completion of this quest that Saihung once again leaves the monastery- and finds himself drawn into the same criminal underworld as his former prey. He finds himself drawn by the dark Tao into a life of force, pride, and sensation. He sinks so low as to become an actor in traditional Chinese opera because he is addicted to applause and adoration. It is there that he encounters two legendary wandering Taoist Immortals and realizes the error of his ways. It is in the last section of the book that the most profound lessons come. He sees the proper place of lesser teachings and lesser realities in following the Path. He learns to look beyond mere technical knowledge, intellectualism, and the letter of sacred literature- and to not confuse them with the goal. It is here that he reconnects with the Tao.
Once again, after reading this book I have absolutely no doubts that the author has studied with a true Master.
3) _Gateway to a Vast World_
This final volume of the _Chronicles of the Tao Trilogy_ sees the end of ancient traditions rooted in the Tao- and the planting of old seeds in a new land.
Saihung has returned to the great mountain monastery of Haushan. After participating briefly in the new Communist government, he has found that he has no use for the game playing, ruthlessness, and mercilessness of politics. Once again, he has grown world-weary and returned to the life of the renunciate. Only this time the Grand Master refuses to let him stay. With a sense of impending urgency, he tells his youngest student to wander the world in search of experience- and his own destiny.
This is how Saihung came to find himself in the America of the 1950's. He had chosen that place because of what he had read in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It hit his idealism hard when he found that these ideals didn't apply to people of other races, the poor, the outsiders. Yet, he still stayed on in this strange new land. He found that working in a restaurant wasn't all that different from the daily life in a monastery- if one kept one's interior life centered and focused. He found that this was not always easy in a land so full of violence, hate, and greed. Then, one day the call came from the Grand Master to return to Huashan. When he arrived, he found the monasteries in ruins, the monks scattered, the practice of Taoism outlawed....
This is the story of one man's experience on the Way. It is a story of touching on the Source only to have it torn away by the constantly changing currents of the world. Yet, inspite of all the trials, the darkness, and the change, the Way and its lessons remain for the serious seeker to rediscover. One has only to persevere to the edge of oblivion itself....